Sword Art Online – Episode 23 – “Bonds” – Alliances Payoff

SAO ep 23

     This…was actually another good episode. We don’t have any of the victimization yet and we see some great teamups and a lot of potential to show what the second arc could have been (Alliances and Raids in action working together). So I’m going to cherish this blip while it’s still around because the next episode is really bad.

    The story involves facing the Guardians again except this time Alicia and Sakuya have arrived to help as together they face off against the Guardians to get Kirito his opening so he can reach the top of the World Tree to save Asuna.

The Pros: The Action – The action is great! It’s quick and flowing and really makes the most of the three dimensional space as well as showing just how threatening the Guardians are but also showing the players power as well.

The Alliance – Cait Siths have dragons and they are awesome! The Sylphs have swords that shoot lazers too, so that is pretty cool. It is great finally seeing an Alliance in game too…I wish that had been the focus of part 2 not Asuna in the place of Princess Peach.

Kazuto/Kirito and Leafa/Suguha – This is the episode where they fight it out in the game and later find a new way to relate to one another as Kazuto admits that he regretted being distant from her and everyone and that why he is trying to beat the game and save Asuna is so that he can move on. Suguha admits that after she find out she became attracted to him because of how kind he was to her after he came out of the game. They later make a great team up against the Guardians. They and the Alliance eventually break Kirito through and he uses the Admin Card to get through the locked door and enter the top of the tree.

Recon – Recon returns as the Red Shirt whose sacrifice shows there is chance to break through the Guardians and also buys them time before the Alliance arrives. It was a cool moment.

This was a solid action episode, the creepyness is coming up though. I’m going to cherish these action moments while I can before the dive into the abyss of some of the worst that anime has to offer.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 20 – “The General of the Blazing Flame” – Alliances and the World Tree

SAO Ep 20

   After finishing up “SAO” this is an episode that I wish we could have had more of. This was an episode that politics, showed character advancement within the game and dealt with politics between people as well as showing potential for future plot advancement to avoid the Kirito Show. It hadn’t lost all it’s dignity as some of the episodes near the end did that really showed the worst of what can come out of television and anime.

    The story picks up where we left off with Sugu and Kirito racing to save the potential Alliance from the Salamander attack. They arrive just in time leading to a faceoff and Kirito’s first real opponent within the game.

The Pros: The Peace Conference – The Peace Conference between the Cait Sith and the Sylphs is awesome as we see them come together against the main threat and the Sylphs deal with their betrayer as well after Kirito’s duel. It’s awesome and we see their Alliance go towards it’s original purpose of tackling the World Tree.

The Duel – The Duel between the General and Kirito is awesome and we see Kirito get hurt until he uses Leafa’s sword to use his duel wielding ability he had in the last game. This is the only way he is able to beat the General and his Demon Sword stopping the Salamander army.

Kirito – Kirito shows awareness in this and he seems to be receptive to accepting help realizing he doesn’t really fully know this game.

Asuna’s Escape – Asuna having memorized the pass code uses it escape her cage. Finally a moment of empowerment for Asuna has been trapped and victimized way too much in this series thus far as it is.

The Faction Leaders – Sakuya of the Sylphs and Alicia are awesome! We see that they are smart, independent and see the bigger picture of the end game. Wish they could have received more development.

The Cons: Kirito Alone – Kirito does the duel alone, I would have almost preferred the other leaders being involved too since they were the ones being threatened.

    This was the last great episode except maybe the final episode of this series. The rest from here really take a major tonal shift downhill…and were hard to get through because so much of it was gratuitous. I understand why one of my friends stopped watching the show soon after this episode.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 19 – “The Legrue Corridor” – The Chance for Peace

SAO 19

     This episode shows us that Kirito or the Spriggans can do much more than illusion and also that there is a larger plot going on as the Salamanders have been the main threat and are acting in accordance with a Sylph leader, including the hunting of Kirito and Leafa.

    The story involves Leafa and Kirito finding they are being tracked by a Salamander raiding party who are working for a Sylph who wants to end the treaty that is going to be formed between the Sylph and Cait Siths leading Kirito with the choice to work with her and help the peace conference from being destroyed or continuing his path the The World Tree.

The Pros: The Salamanders and Fairy Politics – The Salamanders are the Fire Nation of this show, from being the primary threat and their constant hunting of the heroes as well as their dark motif. They are the largest of the factions it seems as destroying the peace conference will get them the equipment and power they need for a run at the World Tree.

Nagata/Recon – Nagata is really into the game as in the real world he reaches out to Suguha after he gets captured by the betrayer Sylph and the Salamanders and left in the sewers to die. He shows he is courageous when he finds out about the betrayal and their attempt to break up the possible treaty.

Yui – Yui shows how great she is as a guide and sets things up so that Kirito’s spell will do the most damage and that he will be shielded from the Salamander attack through the shield Leafa casts. It’s really great that she isn’t just an observer.

Suguha/Leafa – Leafa shows how invested she is in the big picture of the game as she goes back to protect her Fairy leader when she knows the leader and peace conference are at risk from the betrayal and Salamander attack. It was well done.

Kirito and the Battle – Kirito is very much the Kirito of old as he is willing to put himself at risk for strangers and he talks to Leafa about how he was much more selfish. He also uses his ability to change into an awesome Gleam Eyes type monster that reeks havoc showing that Spriggans or at least Kirito’s power lies beyond much more than illusion.

This was a great episode with the only thing that didn’t quite work was the cliffhanger ending. We aren’t to the peace conference yet, but besides that fact there are great moments between characters…be they Recon and Leafa or Kirito and Leafa. Nothing but good payoff this episode.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10